Failures – Process Beyond Success

Milan Design Week 2016
Cascina Cuccagna

«Success» and «successful» are usually among the most frequently recurring words in Milan Design Week great showcase. Raumplan’s Failures shifts the focus on the process and the behind the scenes of design world. In the scenery of the ancient rooms of Cascina Cuccagna, an old barn in the centre of Milan, the exhibition is dedicated to the theme of failure in design and art. Failures is about the process beyond success: stories of setbacks, of broken paths that lead to new perspectives. An insight into some hidden sides of designers’ and producers’ daily work, with products, prototypes and unique pieces by design masters as well as contemporary designers.

Photo ©Martina Rosa

While success draws attention only to the result, the occurrence of failure brings to light the intermediary phases, the trials and the unpredictable paths that structure a project in all its complexity. Failures, mistakes, detours and changings of course represent a way for penetrating the specific story of each object.

Francesco Faccin, Stratos chair – Photo ©Delfino Sisto Legnani
Poster design by Giga Design Studio for Failures – Photo ©Delfino Sisto Legnani


Failures – Main exhibition

The main exhibition displays works by Aldo Rossi, Alessandro Mendini, Ettore Sottsass, Joe Colombo, Marco Zanuso, Richard Sapper, Riccardo Blumer and Francesco Faccin. The pieces may be considered as «failures»: for many different reasons they missed their goal or moved far away from the original project.

Failures, stanza Galleria – Photo ©Louis De Belle

It’s a set of very peculiar stories. Projects discarded just before they made it out to the factory (like Pieletrico lamp by Faccin/Catalàn de Ocòn and the Folding chair by Aldo Rossi), or dropped by the same author (the prototype of Venini Vase by Mendini). Projects that achieve great success thanks to adjustments not included in the original design (Sapper and Zanuso’s 1340 little chair), or impossible to realize in the planned mode (Joe Colombo’s chair).

Ettore Sottsass, Hotellerie set (1979-1985) ©Museo Alessi. Photo ©Martina Rosa

The exhibition path develops a plural framework for investigating that border zone between the original idea and its shaping and realization. The manifold occurrences of failure reveal how the creative process is everything but linear and teleological. Accident, risk and contamination appear as being structural features, rather than accessory. The real ability seems to be to welcome these aspects and integrate them into the project.

Richard Sapper e Marco Zanuso, 1340, later 4999 (1964 – 1979) ©Kartellmuseo. The possibility of stacking the little chairs, not featured in the initial design, was implemented in the production phase, and made the fortune of this iconic piece by Kartell. Photo ©Martina Rosa
Joe Colombo, 4811 (1965 – 1973) © Kartellmuseo. Made of wood because of the technological deficiencies of the plastic thermoforming, it was finally produced in plastic by Kartell only in 2011, as planned in the original design. Photo ©Martina Rosa


Failures – Trials

The collective exhibition named Trials presents a selection of young international designers: their works include prototypes, self-produced unique pieces but also small serial productions. Trials are like «free-practice sessions» in which designers get free from the obligation to succeed in the short-term and make room for experiments. By exposing themselves to the risk of failure, they explore new challenges and opportunities.

John Astbury, Piccolo – Photo ©Louis De Belle


Exhibition design

Trials, stanza Capriate – Photo ©Louis De Belle

The exhibition design is based on just one material, a rough iron without any surface treatment, in a single thickness (3mm) with a defined module of 35×35 centimetres. The exhibition stalls are constituted by rectangular and squarish slabs mounted perpendicularly and horizontally.
The set up establishes a direct relationship between the two main parts of the exhibition, by having the same exhibition design and materials but with a different configuration. In the set up of Trials the heights of the pedestals and their dimensions follow the necessities of the pieces that present very different shapes and dimensions. The variation adds complexity to the room by providing different views from every side of it.
The eponym section named Failures, is, on the contrary, ordered and straight in its set up. The tables have all the same width and their height is increasing towards the centre of the room. Here the narration is more cohesive and even the exhibition design progresses through a coherent sequence that could be read in both directions.

Failures, stanza Galleria – Photo ©Louis De Belle
Louis De Belle, Failed Dioramas – Photo ©Louis De Belle
Delfino Sisto Legnani, sedia Stratos by Francesco Faccin. The images portray the stress tests to which the chair was unsuccessfully subject – Photo ©Louis De Belle
John Astbury, Corners – Photo ©Martina Rosa
Photo ©Martina Rosa
Photo ©Martina Rosa
Photo ©Martina Rosa
Photo ©Martina Rosa

A project by Raumplan for Cascina Cuccagna – Milan Design Week 2016

Project team: Pietro Bonomi, Andrea De Nicola, Gabriele Donini, Nicolò Ornaghi, Giacomo Scandolara, Giacomo Viviani, Francesco Zorzi
Client: ACCC (Associazione Consorzio Cantiere Cuccagna)
Exhibition venue and date: Cascina Cuccagna, Milano. 8th-17th of April 2016
Curatorship (Failures – Main Exhibition): Nicolò Ornaghi, Pietro Bonomi
Curatorship (Failures – Trials): Pietro Bonomi, Andrea De Nicola, Nicolò Ornaghi, Giacomo Viviani
Art Direction: Giga Design Studio 
Graphic design: Giga Design Studio with Andrea De Nicola and Giacomo Viviani
Exhibition design: Nicolò Ornaghi, Francesco Zorzi
Wayfinding design: Systems Studio
Exhibition View: Louis De Belle, Martina Rosa
Production: Matteo Maggi, Andrea Ferrari
Press Office: Luisa Castiglioni
Failures – Blumerandfriends and Matteo Borghi, Alvaro Catalàn De Ocòn and Francesco Faccin, Museo Alessi, Kartell, Archivio Sacchi
Trials – Chiara Andreatti, John Astbury, Be Able E.V. Led by Weiw and Sara Ricciardi, Louis De Belle, Jacopo Ferrari, Elisa Honkanen, Valeriane Lazard, Giacomo Moor, NOIII, Nick Ross, Jacopo Sarzi, Delfino Sisto Legnani, Haha Sthlm, Daphne Zuilhof
Ventures – Archistart, Architetti Artigiani Anonimi Annamarita Aversa, Atelier Macramè, Daniele Cima, Errecubo, FPE | D’Officina and Gypsum Led by Diego Vencato and Marco Merendi, Alessandro Iacobino and Karol Sudolski, Anders Lunderskov, IYWTo, Laura Piacquadio, Recipient, Smarin, Paola Sommaruga, Studio Lunik, Studio Grassi Design, Twentytrees, Ushbag, .LIT

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